• November 16, 2016

    Clarksburg, WV: Robinson Grand restoration bids due Dec. 22; public capital campaign set in 2017


    From The Exponent Telegram:
    The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center’s capital campaign will begin its public phase in early 2017 to continue raising money for the $15 million multi-use facility for North Central West Virginia.

    Clarksburg City Manager Martin Howe said a recent economic study shows that the renovation and restoration project for the former theater will have a $32 million impact over the first five years of its operation.

    It is slated for a soft opening in the spring of 2018. The formal opening is planned in the fall with a national headliner, according to Kathleen DuBois, planning and capital campaign consultant, who has been working with the project team since Nov. 2015.

  • November 15, 2016

    Mt. Clemens, MI – Historic Emerald Theater to open in December


    From The Macomb Daily: A benefit concert involving WDVD-FM (96.3) is the first show on the schedule for the historic Emerald Theater in downtown Mount Clemens, venue and radio station officials said Monday.

    Blaine’s Not So Silent Night featuring morning radio personality Blaine Fowler and other musicians will be held Dec. 15 with proceeds benefiting Children’s Miracle Network and Beaumont Children’s.

    “This will be our first show here since we took over the property,” said theater owner John Hanna.

    Hanna, owner of Royal Oak-based Hanna Development & Management, is in the process of renovating the interior and exterior of the 95-year-old theater.

    Crews have been working to install a new floor and new bar on the inside, and a new marquee on the front of the Walnut Street venue that will have an emerald as a focal point. The work is nearing completion, he said.

    “The heavy lifting is done,” Hanna said. “We’re remodeling the former Rock Room and are trying to address a ton of details. Things are looking good.”

    The new marquee will be erected sometime in the week after Thanksgiving. Crews are working to prepare the front of the building for the sign. For the first new show in the theater since it was purchased earlier this year and renovated will be a benefit and hosted by contemporary hits radio station WDVD-FM (963.) and will feature several bands including the Blaine Fowler Experience.

    “We are very excited to celebrate the season at the newly re-opened Emerald Theater with ‘Blaine’s Not So Silent Night’ starring Blue October, Wrabel and the BFE,” WDVD program director Robby Bridges said in an email.

    Although Hanna’s focus now is on finishing the restoration, he is looking at a possible New Year’s Eve event at the Emerald, but no details have been released. More events are expected to be announced in early 2017.

    Hanna Development purchased the theater as a “distressed property” from Revere Capital, LLC, which obtained it when the previous owners, Wally Mona and Marc Beginin, filed for bankruptcy last year.

    The theater was designed by C. Howard Crane, the acclaimed theater architect who designed Detroit’s Fox Theatre and Orchestra Hall along with New York City’s Radio Music Hall. It opened in 1921 as a grand movie palace and vaudeville performance venue.

    Over the decades, it morphed into other uses.

    Hanna’s family-owned development company runs several properties in Oakland County but his prime pieces are in Royal Oak, including The Fifth, an 18-story residential complex, the Royal Oak Music Theater, Goodnite Gracie martini bar and D’Amato’s Italian Restaurant.

    His long-term vision for the county seat in Macomb County begins with the Emerald. He recently purchased the Denver Building on Macomb Place and is considering a number of other properties. He also has purchased the former Johnny G’s restaurant, with plans to make it a Mexican restaurant called El Rey.

    “There is a ton of potential in downtown Mount Clemens,” Hanna said. “I’d like to help make it more of a walkable downtown, I think that’s where its strength would be at.”

    Despite Hanna’s low-key, under-the-radar approach, his actions have already made an impact on the city, according to Michelle Weiss of the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority.

    “He’s doing an amazing job on the Emerald, it’s taken on a whole different look from the old theater,” Weiss said. “We believe in our city and we believe John will unlock the greatness. I think we are in for a major improvement thanks to him.”

    Tickets for Blaine’s Not So Silent Nite are $9.63. For more information on the event, visit

  • November 14, 2016

    Metropolis, IL – Lunch raising money to save and restore historic theater


    From Community members are sharing a meal Sunday to help save an area landmark.

    Dozens of people turned out in downtown Metropolis for the annual Save the Massac Theatre Luncheon, helping breathe new life in to the old theater.

    Inside Happy Hearts in downtown Metropolis, community members and city leaders are packed together for an afternoon meal. Denese Peebles, an organizer with the Save the Massac Theatre group, has been helping to raise money through small events like this one for eight years, working toward saving and restoring the Massac Threatre.

    “Bake sales, pork burger lunches, luncheons, everything. But we got the money together,” Peebles said. Sunday’s luncheon may seem small but for every brownie and cupcake sold, it’s helped to raise thousands of dollars to save the Massac Theatre over the years.

    “The theater is just kind of an icon, I can remember going to shows when I was in high school and I just think it would be a wonderful thing to save. We need a good theater in town,” said Janet Foster, a Metropolis native. She and her family are here not just to get a meal but to give back to her hometown community.

    The theater sits old and broken now but after years of fundraising, the group has saved it from demolition, replaced the roof and piece by piece are bringing it back to its former glory.

    “I mean, the miracle of the movies, when I was a kid it took you someplace else and now we’ll be able to bring that back to our small town,” Peebles said. She says they’re currently raising money to lay new brick inside. But in a few years, they’ll be ready to reopen the theater’s doors to the community for good.

    After opening in 1938, the Massac Theatre closed its doors in 1978, according to members of the Save the Massac Theatre group. Their goal is to restore the theater an reopen it for use by the high school as well as an operational movie theater in the next five years. Its restoration is being paid for through community donations and grant funding.

    The next event to benefit the theater will be held Dec. 8 at the Community Center in Metropolis. Organizers say it will be a ham dinner cooked by the Metropolis Mayor.

    For more information on the theater, visit them on the website here on the Facebook page here.

  • October 18, 2016

    Flint, MI – Historic finds uncovered as Capitol Theatre renovations continue


    From It’s a landmark that’s been around longer than most Flintstones.

    Yet, not even experts leading the restoration know all the hidden secrets the historic Capitol Theatre holds.

    “Very often on historic restoration projects, we hear about the conditions that you find that make things more complicated or add time or add money,” said Jarret Haynes, CEO of the Whiting Auditorium. “But sometimes, you find things that you say, ‘Wow, we didn’t know this was here, and we could refurbish this restore this and even more bring back the character of this lobby of what the original design intent was.’”

    Haynes said the latter has mostly been the case with the $32 million Capitol project, which began when The Whiting and Uptown Reinvestment Corp. acquired the building in July. The Whiting will manage operations at the Capitol.

  • Ashtabula, OH – Shea’s remaster moving forward


    From The Star Beacon: After buying Shea’s Theatre earlier this year, Dominic and Dom Apolito of DMS Recovery, have spent the past four months renovating it.

    They plan to restore the theater and turn the front part of the building into a bar and restaurant, said Dom Apolito, vice president and chief of marketing.

    “We found marble floors underneath the carpet at the main entrance,” he said. “We are going to clean it up and make it look brand new.”

    A few weeks ago, workers discovered several old newspapers well preserved inside the walls.

    “We have been working little by little,” he said. “We have the original projection camera, ticket boxes and many other historical pieces.”

    He believes the $3 million project will be done in about two years.

    Earlier this year, Dom’s father, Dominic Apolito, bought Shea’s from Ashtabula County Council on Aging for $20,000, according to the Ashtabula County Auditor’s Office.

    The Apolitos then gave a donation to the Ashtabula Senior Center, he said.

    “We are cleaning the building to ensure that it will be ready for construction,” Dom Apolito said. “In the process, we are finding and recovering historical artifacts and pieces."

    They are hoping to raise $50,000 at a GoFundMe account at for the renovation of the actual movie theater in the back of the building. So far, they have received $400.

    They are paying out of their own pockets to restore the front of theater, where they are going to have the restaurant and bar.

    At one time, Shea’s Theatre, 4634 Main Ave., had thick carpeting, plush seating, wall murals and a water fountain. Built in 1949 in an architectural style called Streamline Moderne, Shea’s Theatre is one of the last of its kind.

    Most recently, it served as the Ashtabula Senior Center.

    Two years ago, the Senior Center moved to a vacant bank building at 4184 Main Ave., donated by Ashtabula businessman Ken Kister.

  • October 14, 2016

    Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY – Restoration of Black Lady Theatre Underway in Crown Heights


    From Behind new glass doors covered in thick construction paper, the Black Lady is getting a serious makeover.

    The building at 750 Nostrand Ave., once known as the Black Lady Theatre, has been closed for years, notable only for an eye-catching mural on its facade of a woman shooting laser beams from her eyes at a besuited man.

    The distinctive painting has now been removed — but temporarily, according to Omar Hardy, who is restoring the theater with his father, Clarence, the one-time partner of the building’s former owner, the late John Phillips.

  • October 5, 2016

    St. Paul, MN – Take a look inside St. Paul’s Palace Theatre overhaul, soon to be a major concert destination


    From the Star Tribune: The Palace Theatre in downtown St. Paul looks to be in ruins right now. And that’s a good thing.

    After three years of financial and governmental wrangling, renovations on the 100-year-old former vaudeville and movie house are well underway — 32 years after its marquee went dark over what’s now the 7th Place walking plaza between Wabasha and St. Peter streets.

  • October 2, 2016

    Hot Springs, AR – Maxwell Blade ready to restore Malco Theater


    From Another example of the restoration of Historic Hot Springs is in the pipeline, and this one literally involves magic.

    Magician and entertainer Maxwell Blade has taken control of the Malco Theater on Central Ave. It will mark a return to the site for the illusionist who has been working in the Spa City for more than 20 years.

    “This will soon be a brand new state of the art theater,” said Blade as he toured the now-gutted building, finding dusty cards left behind from his previous stint in the theater a decade ago. “It will have 350 seats and a brand new lobby area. So, we’re looking forward to the future.”

    The Malco site once hosted Vaudeville shows as Hot Springs developed in the late 1800s. As motion pictures arrived, the current theater opened with an art deco design in the 1940s. It faded in recent decades but remained host of the Hot Springs Film Festival until the last few years. That’s when Blade saw a chance to return, and he plans a grand restoration.

    Neon lights will be restored. Architechture saved while new showbiz technologies are added in.

    And it will all be designed around Blade’s long-running show, which he says he will update once the new space is ready. He expects a full house thanks to a growing tourist economy in Hot Springs.

    “Tourists are coming like never before, and in my 20 years here I think the growth is more so than I’ve ever seen,” he said.

    An elaborate magic show will be another piece to the evolution of the city into an adult playground with the racetrack and casino up the street and new hotel developments throughout downtown.

    “People ask me all the time ‘why aren’t you in Vegas?’ Well, I want to be in Hot Springs,” Blade says. “I have my children here. They were raised here. But yet, instead of me being in Vegas, I’m going in some sense bring it to you.”

    The flashy neon signs out front should bring glitz back to Central Ave. The only magical spirit Blade fears could be arousing the ghosts who legend says still haunt the place.

    “I heard a seat creek and then something walked in front of that light like a shadow,” he said of a particularly chilling night in the auditorium. “Scared me to death. I just got out of here. I was like nope. Maybe my imagination, I don’t know it was odd.”

    Blade will host his 4th annual Festival of Magic beginning September 30. The Malco isn’t ready for that, but shows and seminars involving other top magicians will take place in his current location as well as the Hot Springs Convention Center.

  • New York, NY – Revamped Broadway theater may gain national historic recognition


    From Curbed NY: The New York State Board of Historic Preservation has recommended that 22 “properties, resources, and districts” be added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. New York City itself doesn’t have much of a presence on this particular list, but one building made the cut: The Hudson Theatre, a Broadway house in Manhattan’s Theater District (surprise!).

    And the place does indeed have quite a history. Constructed in 1902-1903 for Henry B. Harris, a big-name Broadway producer who later died on the Titanic, the Beaux-Arts theater opened with a production of Cousin Kate, starring Ethel Barrymore. (She was Kate.)

    Among the many stars to have graced the Hudson stage: Douglas Fairbanks, William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, and Judith Anderson. In 1954, the theater became home to the first incarnation of The Tonight Show, hosted by Steve Allen. It was later converted into a movie house, and in 1980, the theater reopened as the short-lived Savoy Rock Club.

    After a few sad decades as a conference space and sometime-comedy venue for the Millennium Broadway Hotel, the space was returned to its theatrical roots. In 2015, Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) announced they’d be reopening the Hudson. The new era will begin with a revival of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This, starring none other than Jake Gyllenhaal. Both the production and the revamped theater are set to open in March 2017. It was already designated a New York City landmark in 1987.

    Other recommendations to the registry include Buffalo Public School #24, the first school in the area to offer special education programs; John W. Jones Court, a public housing project in Elmira named for the Underground Railroad activist; and the Moss Street Cemetery in Kingsbury, which has graves dating back to the 1780s.

  • Newport, RI – Behind the Scenes: Newport Opera House Theater Restoration


    From While the Opera House Theater presents Lost Newport tonight at its partner venue, Jane Pickens Theater, the nearby doors of the opera house remain closed as renovations continue in advance of its December 2017 opening. The revitalization of Rhode Island’s oldest surviving theater building began in spring of this year and involves major structural work as well as finely detailed artistry required to restore the interior’s decorative elements. Wonder what it looks like inside? To find out, we stopped by the Opera House for a behind-the-scenes tour. One of the first things we noticed when looking at old pictures of the Opera House was the mansard roof, an architectural element not there today. “The roof was lost in a fire in 1950s,” explained Ivan S. Colon, the Opera Houses’s head of Business Development. “We are adding back the top floor.” In addition to the mansard roof’s restoration, the addition of the 4th level will include a rooftop garden and atrium.